Elon Musk gained notoriety when he postulated a computer-generated simulated universe. He was not the first, but he became an adherent of the theory. Physicists were quick to jump in and support him with evidence.
What they did was simply to make a computer simulation of their own! It resembles our universe, of course. Many scientists have wanted to conduct such an experiment since the inception of the idea. It pervades popular culture, engendering a myriad of reactions and responses.
The assumption is that a civilization of magnitude with superior intelligence would create a mirror simulation if it could. Many simulations could even be achieved with enough power, like simulations within simulations. The argument concludes that since we might have the wherewithal, we probably have done it! Our world is, in fact, artificial.
A team of researchers from the University of Bonn in Germany set out to test this assumption with Silas Beane in the lead. They claim to have the evidence now; it is found in a paper, Constraints on the Universe as a Numerical Simulation. Top of Form
A cursory glance will see their hypothesis and conclusion: simulations of the universe exist, but they are not fully formed. They are weak and small given the limits of the laws of physics.
According to Technology Review, “the problem with all simulations is that the laws of physics, which appear continuous, have to be superimposed onto a discrete three dimensional lattice which advances in steps of time.”
Interpreting this statement, we see that a computer simulation sets limits on any created simulation in terms of particle energy. But does this undermine the concept? Anyone living within the created world would detect such limitations no doubt. Looking at our world, we actually can see them.
The real truth may come from the GZK cutoff (shortened from Greisen-Zatsepin-Kuzmin). It sets boundaries on the energy of cosmic ray particles due to the interaction with background radiation.
Beane and his cohorts wrote about this likelihood. This “rule” establishes a pattern that mirrors a computer simulation. This is their proof! It is a tricky conclusion about a sticky subject.
In the end, it is intriguing if implausible. It reminds one of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave with prisoners shielded from reality. They see only their surrounding walls. It takes physics to provide an answer to the question of reality, only available to modern humans.